Rich Wagner Beer History Tour

Fairmount Park Conservancy presents

Trails to Ales

Saturday, March 18, 2023

1:00pm – 4:00pm

Mount Pleasant Mansion
3800 Mt Pleasant Dr
Philadelphia, 19121

Join beer historian Rich Wagner for a history of brewing and beer gardens on a hiking tour of East Fairmount Park.

As the name of the Brewerytown neighborhood that borders East Park indicates, Philadelphia was a beer brewing town. In fact, in the late 19th century, with over 30 breweries, we were the brewing capital of America! Before the city created the park, the banks of the Schuylkill River were valuable to emerging breweries for the harvesting and storage of ice and the cold storage of lager beer in underground vaults. Also, after acquiring several historic houses with the establishment of Fairmount Park, the city sought ways to re-adapt them and the properties were leased as beer gardens enjoyed by a growing German population. The hike will discuss this and many other intoxicating aspects of beer history in Fairmount Park.

Check this link for a much fuller description of the day’s events and information on how to join the group. There is a pay what you can ticket for the tour.

Rich is sharing this article on the Engel and Wolf’s Brewery.


Oliver Evans Society for Industrial Archeology



Saturday, January 28, 2023, 10:00 a.m. to noon 
West Chester University Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology
775 S Church Street, West Chester, PA 19383 

In partnership with the Global Philadelphia Association, this special exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention by exploring the rich heritage of Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s Independence Hall and its famed Liberty Bell was one of the U.S.’ first World Heritage sites, deemed to be of universal human value for its importance in the creation of the world’s first Enlightenment-era Republic. However, the exhibition delves beyond this colonial narrative to show that Philadelphia’s global heritage is the result of continuous interactions of diverse communities over time. 

With rare artifacts on loan from the National Parks Service, Lest We Forget Museum, Landis Valley Museum, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, among others; and original works by numerous Philadelphia-based artists such as Diane Keller, Ana Vizcarra Rankin, Salome Cosmique and Sue Chen, Beyond the Bell’s exhibits on labor, immigration, transportation, fashion and arts, festivals, sports and pop culture reveal the richness and global importance of the “City of Brotherly and Sisterly Love.” 

Also on view is Earth Day at 50: Lessons for a Sustainable Future. 

The museum is housed in the Old Library Building.  Enter through the main front door on Church Street. Please note that there are stairs you will need to walk up to get to the building; unfortunately it’s a historic building (on the National Historic Register) and stairs are the only way to get into the building.  

There is ample metered street parking in front of the building on Church Street.  Note: this is a one-way street that leads to Rosedale Avenue.  Payment is required on all days except Sundays through a municipal kiosk, which accepts credit cards. Free parking is available in Lot K located behind the Sykes Student Union, off Rosedale Avenue. On weekends you may park without a permit in any student-designated space.

Reservations: Call Reese Davis at 610-692-4456 or e-mail at

For those who wish to, we could gather to have lunch in downtown West Chester after the tour.

Here is a map of the campus and parking locations:

OE Railroad Prototype Modelers

Two of our Oliver Evans chapter members attended the modelers convention at Malvern, March 24 to 27, 2022. Here are their thoughts on their attendance at the meeting and their involvement with railroad modeling.

The Railroad Prototype Modelers (“RPM”) Valley Forge is a biennial gathering of model railroaders concerned with accurately depicting railroad equipment, structures, and scenes in scale models. For many years it has been held in the spring of even numbered years at the Desmond in Malvern, alternating with another biennial gathering in odd numbered years in the Pittsburgh area. The name “prototype modelers” uses a term born in the model railroad press early in the days of commercial model railroading: “prototype,” referring in this case to the real thing, actual railroads and their components. Therefore, modeling to the prototype means as accurately as possible portraying actual existing or historic railroads. The gathering at Malvern, and other similar gatherings around the country, have displays of models in multiple scales, “clinics,” or presentations by skilled modelers about their techniques of researching and/or constructing highly accurate models of specific prototypes, and vendor tables selling items appealing to this subset of the wide-ranging model railroad hobby.

The 2022 gathering was dedicated to past RPM Valley Forge leader and OESIA member the late DIck Foley of Philadelphia. The web site of the gathering includes a tribute to Dick as well as a list of the clinics and many photographs of this year’s and previous years’ model displays. You may visit the website at
Larry DeYoung, OESIA and RPM Valley Forge Clinician

Railroads are an industry too.
As members of the Society for Industrial Archaeology all of us share an interest in a variety of industries. Recent perusal of the Society’s journal covers a broad spectrum of interests, from bridges to grist mills and lots of interesting items in between including gold mining. What I have noticed is that very seldom do railroads seem to be featured. I am not sure why, but I would like to say a few words on their behalf. 

Interest in railroads comes from two sources. One is the strictly academic perspective that is probably studied under the broader heading of transportation industry. The other source is from modeling trains. When most people think of model trains it is often the nostalgic image of trains running in a circle under the Christmas tree. While this may have been true in the 1940’s and 50’s, the hobby has changed significantly since that time. Probably the most significant change in the hobby has been its demographics. While 50 years ago it was considered a hobby for kids, now most of the participants are middle aged or older, in fact younger people are definitely in the minority. With that change in demographics there has also been a change in the goals of the hobby.

Most of the change took place in the late 1990’s with what I would call the “prototype modeling” movement. Prior to that, model railroading tended to be more fanciful, with imaginary railroads that bore only a slight resemblance to the real thing. Probably with the change in demographics and the feeling that older people should not just being playing with toys, model railroaders became a lot more serious about what they were modeling. By the 1990’s a number of small companies began manufacturing railroad freight cars that were highly detailed and accurately matched a very specific prototype. The availability of these models spawned what is know as “Railroad Prototype Modelers” meetings (RPM for short). In the beginning there were only two but enthusiasm for these meetings quickly spread so that probably there are a few dozen of these meetings spread across the country each year. 

While modeling is the end game, the information or history behind the model is of equal importance. Typically at an RPM at least half the talks are about specific freight cars. When and why was a certain car built, how long did the railroad keep them in service, and what ultimately led to their demise. Often there is no mention of a model, although certainly if you wanted to create a model all the information was there. Not surprisingly after a few years the meetings started to encompass more than just freight cars. Detailed studies of how specific railroads operated and why they did certain things became part of the meeting. This also generated any number of special interest groups, NY harbor railroad-marine operations, or steel mill railroads that adds an interesting mix to the talks. While most of the participants in these meetings are modelers, most of the emphasis is on history.

Clearly there is a significant part of the community that would like to preserve this disappearing railroad history. Realistically there are only so many railroad cars that can be saved, restored and found a home for. On the other hand modeling provides an alternative way to preserve this history just in a much smaller scale.
Ron Hoess, OESIA and RPM Valley Forge Clinician

This layout tour at the RPM feature’s Ron’s modeling.

Ron presented his model at the OE Chapter meeting on Tuesday, January 11, 2022. The video is available on the OE YouTube channel if you wish to view it. Homage to Workshop of the World.

South Street History Museum

South Street History Museum
Exhibits on Display
March 5th 12th, 19th, 26th , 12 noon to 6 pm

Joel Spivak has been involved with South Street for many years; he has lived in the area since 1969. That’s when he became involved in documenting its history and collecting artifacts related to its commercial and communal activities.

The collection has been exhibited in a number of places. In 1974 the first display was at 337 South Street and was featured in the Philadelphia Magazine August issue. There was also a walking tour, “From Headhouse to Levis’ – South Street’s Unique Contribution to American History.”

Joel contacted the Historical Society of Pennsylvania concerning preservation of fragile objects. The society was impressed with the collection and its excellent documentation detailed in tags and dates. They agreed to take over the housing and curating the collection. Unfortunately the Historical Society gave up their collections, turning over the South Street materials to the Atwater Kent where some of it was exhibited. And now that institution is no more and the collection made before 1990 is in storage.

However, Joel never stopped his documenting and collecting and the new materials can be seen on display at the South Street History Museum which has opened again to the public.

The South Street History Museum now at 523 South 4th Street will be moving again so the current display can only be seen on Saturdays in March 2022. The hours are 12 noon until 6 pm.

From Caves and Canals to Tunnels and Transit

The New Jersey Chapter 
of the National Railway Historical Society
presents a Zoom program

Underground Philadelphia:
From Caves and Canals to Tunnels and Transit

Jan 24, 2022 07:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

WJC member Joel Spivak will present his program on Underground Philadelphia. The program is based on a book by Harry Kyriadkodis and Joel that they put together in 2019.  We will record the program in case you miss it live.

Philadelphia’s relationship with the underground is as old as the city itself, dating back to when Quaker settlers resided in caves alongside the Delaware River more than three hundred years ago. The City of Brotherly Love later became a national and world leader in the delivery of water, gas, steam, and electricity during the industrial age. The construction of multiple subway lines within Center City took place during the early twentieth century. An intricate subsurface pedestrian concourse was also developed throughout the downtown area for the city’s inhabitants. From Thirtieth Street Station and Reading Terminal to the Commuter Rail Tunnel and transit lines that were never built, Philadelphia’s infrastructure history is buried under the earth as much as above.

David Homer is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting

Meeting ID: 846 2596 3913
Passcode: 828279
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Passcode: 828279
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Be sure to check our West Jersey Chapter webpage:

What’s Joel Doing?

South Street Museum Opening
523 S. 4
th St. – Phila. PA 19147

The Museum is a collection of artifacts from the South Street Renaissance as it happened from1962 to
the present including a history of the neighborhood.

The Museum will be open:
Saturday December 4,  2021  2 until 6
Saturday Dec. 11, 2021  12 until 6
Saturday Dec 18, 2021 12 until 6

And by appointment, contact: 

Alchemy Illuminated: The Art of Crafting from Trash

Oliver Evans chapter member Joel Spivak is exhibiting at the Neon Museum in Northern Liberties. He is a member of  the Philadelphia Dumpster Divers , a found object art collective formed 29 years ago

Grand Opening this Weekend!

Friday, November 5th
First Friday soft opening of the exhibit

Saturday, November 6th
Grand opening with the Dumpster Divers in attendance

Know Before You Go

The Museum recommends reserving tickets, though walk-ins are welcome.
$10 admission per adult. 7 to 12 year olds enter for free.

Here is a link to full information on the museum and exhibit and to make a reservation:


Fairmount Park Conservancy presents


by Adam Levine, Historical Consultant, Philadelphia Water Department
 and creator of

Thursday, April 1, at noon

Free, registration required at

Adam Levine, historian for the Philadelphia Water Department, uncovers more ghosts of Fairmount Park’s watery past. Join him for this illustrated lecture as he talks about more abandoned reservoirs in Roxborough, another pumping station and standpipe in Holmesburg, swimming lakes (not pools) in East Falls and South Philadelphia, winter skating, and the steamboats that plied the Schuylkill through the 19th and early 20th century.

This talk is a follow-up to an earlier lecture, Ghosts of Water Part 1, which took place last October and can be found here:






The Warminster Historical Society presents

From Caves and Canals to Tunnels and Transit

With authors: Harry Kyraikodis & Joel Spivak
Monday, February 24th, 2020 at 6:30 PM
at the Warminster Free Library, 1076 Emma Ln, Warminster, PA 18974
Free and open to all

Online Registration Required at:

Philadelphia’s relationship with the underground is as old as the city itself, dating back to when Quaker settlers resided in caves alongside the Delaware River more than three hundred years ago. The City of Brotherly Love later became a national and world leader in the delivery of water, gas, steam, and electricity during the industrial age. The construction of multiple subway lines within Center City took place during the early twentieth century. An intricate subsurface pedestrian concourse was also developed throughout the downtown area for the city’s inhabitants. From Thirtieth Street Station and Reading Terminal to the Commuter Rail Tunnel and transit lines that were never built, Philadelphia’s infrastructure history is buried under the earth as much as above. Join authors Harry Kyriakodis and Joel Spivak as they reveal the curious aspects of the Quaker City’s underground experience.

Books will be available for $20.

Questions: 267.961.2189 or

What Saving the Newkirk Monument Taught Us, and What We Still Don’t Know

2019-09-21 Newkirk Monument PRRTHS

In 1838, the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railroad completed the first rail line between its namesake cities, a landmark feat that would eventually link Boston and New York to the nation’s capital. The following year, the railroad’s board commemorated the effort with a 15-foot marble obelisk at the western foot of its bridge at Grays Ferry. Inscribed on this Newkirk Monument were the names of the four railroads that merged to form the PW&B, and 51 of their executives, engineers, and contractors. For years, the Monument held a place of honor along the Pennsylvania Railroad’s line to Washington, D.C. But by the 21st century, the obelisk was eroding and largely forgotten, until a remarkable coalition of government and private groups came together to save it. The Monument has much to tell us about Philly’s railroads in the Age of Jackson — yet some things remain shrouded in history. Please join us for a talk about the Newkirk Monument, and perhaps even to help us solve its remaining mysteries.

September 21, 2019 1:30 PM

Drexel Hill Methodist Church
600 Burmont Road
Drexel Hill, PA 19026

More about  PRRT&HS

The Philadelphia Chapter of the Pennsylvania Railroad Technical & Historical Society (PRRT&HS), is a Pennsylvania non-profit corporation, is a qualified independent 501(c)(3) Chapter of the Society. The Chapter was formed, by members of the society interested in the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR). The Chapter strives to preserve the history and memory of the Pennsylvania Railroad operations in the greater Philadelphia area. It publishes the “High Line/Keystone Chronicles” magazine on an annual basis. The active information interchange between members and that offered to the public through our publications and internet activity, is greatly enhanced by the many long time rail fans and former PRR employees among our membership. Chapter members possess many areas of interest, experience and expertise… Please share this newsletter with a perspective new member and invite them to a future meeting as a guest!